ICE HOCKEY: American college stars gearing up for Friendship Four tournament

Steve Hagwell signs the Visitors' Book in the Lord Mayor's Parlour at Belfast City Hall with Joe Bertanga and the Lord Mayor Councillor Arder Carson
Steve Hagwell signs the Visitors' Book in the Lord Mayor's Parlour at Belfast City Hall with Joe Bertanga and the Lord Mayor Councillor Arder Carson

American ice-hockey college stars have been touring a number of Belfast schools ahead of the Friendship Four tournament at the SSE Arena this weekend.

The top teams from Umass Lowell, Northeastern, Brown and Colgate universities visited primary and secondary schools across the city including Malone College; St Colm’s High; Belfast Boys Model; Leadhill Primary; St Kevin’s; Dundonald and Gilnahirk Primary Schools and Oakwood School and Assessment Centre.

They were also given a civic welcome to Belfast by Lord Mayor Arder Carson at a special reception in City Hall.

Supported by Belfast City Council, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Friendship Four tournament is a landmark event for the city as it will be the first time the games are played outside the US and the event is expected to draw in large numbers of spectators from across Northern Ireland, the Republic, Britain and the US.

The games will also be broadcast to an audience of millions in US and Canadian TV channels promoting the city of Belfast.

The visiting teams will play at the SSE Arena on Friday and Saturday to compete for the Belpot Trophy and the Belfast Giants will also be playing an Elite League game on Sunday to coincide with the Friendship Four tournament.

Accompanying the Boston teams were ECAC Commissioner Steve Hagwell, Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertanga as well as members of Boston City Council.

Belfast City Council is also enabling schoolchildren from across Belfast to watch the first match of the tournament for free on Friday afternoon.

Councillor Carson said: “Thanks to Belfast City Council’s Sister City relationship with Boston, this sporting showcase will allow the young and the young at heart to enjoy and be part of the action that will be beamed to fans across the Atlantic. Since entering in to our Sister City Agreement in May 2014, tremendous work has been carried out to maximise our academic, sporting, business and cultural connections.